Did the Media Cause the Recession?

Some argue that reporting bad news makes it come true.

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I recently received an angry letter from a reader -- not an unusual occurrence -- that blamed the media for causing the recession. By talking about the fact that retail sales are down and people are spending less, it makes people less likely to feel optimistic, the writer argued.

I dismissed it as just crazy idea, but today, I spoke with Ellen Davis, vice president at the National Retail Federation, and she said essentially the same thing. "News can create a self-fulfilling prophesy," she says. "Even if you still have your job and are doing fine, we keep hearing about how bad the economy is, and then as a shopper you start to question your own buying habits."

In reality, she says, this shopping season was a great one for shoppers. "You could stretch your dollar more than ever before," she says.

What do you think: Are the media to blame for the down economy? (But no need to write me an angry letter.)